Documentary of the Day – Helvetica
February 21, 2012 3 Comments
This one goes out to my typography fanatics out there. Such a simple font type that goes beyond just the style of the words. A proliferation of a typeface that is iconic as it is mundane to the common people. Only those ubberly fascinated with typography will recognize it instantly and also understand the impact it has on society. Now I wish that I could use Helvetica as my font type for this post as it would be poignant, but then again I would be a dick and choose comic sans to fuck with everyone. Haters gonna hate.
Helvetica explores the world of typography and graphic design, focusing on most well-known and highly proliferated typeface, Helvetica. It’s a fascinating study on the history of the font and how it has hijacked almost a large portion of our visual intake. The history of the font is inter-cut with interviews from leading artist, graphic designers and type designers. But while this might seem like the chariot lead for Helvetica fonts, the documentary also explores the personalities of other fonts and how it interacts with us and our daily lives.
I never realized that I would be excited about watching a documentary on font types, but I will damned if I didn’t enjoy this outing. An amateur, stylish first out for director Gary Hustwit, the documentary coincided with the 50th anniversary of the typeface and is incredibly enjoyable to watch. Now I am not much of a graphic designer or even artistic in anyway, so I don’t have that particular connection with the font that other people have.
I will say that upon viewing this well done documentary, that I notice type fonts more and more. It just became so common place with fonts that we don’t think about the use and effort that is put in to develop them and properly use them to their intended purpose. Some fonts are meant to invoke a certain feeling and others are meant as a artsy, stylistic choice. There is a lot of debate had on the use of fonts and what they mean to society, all framed beautifully by the constant visual bombardment of font uses.
Overall, you can’t go wrong with a documentary like this. This film is the first in a Design Trilogy that the director has embarked on. In 2009, he released Objectified, which is about industrial design and 2011 saw the release of Urbanized, which is about architecture and urban design. I haven’t seen the latter, but Objectified is another stellar release and also keep with the stylistic feel that Helvetica had upon its release.